Senators McCain and Dorgan introduced some new legislation today that proposes to more closely regulate the supplement industry in the wake of reports that many products contain designer steroids and other such nasties which aren’t disclosed to the public. Bud Selig just released a statement on it:
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I would like to thank Senators
John McCain and Byron Dorgan for their efforts to broaden the Food and
Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over dietary supplements. We
fully support the proposed legislation designed to protect athletes and
consumers from dangerous, mislabeled and tainted over-the-counter
supplements. The continued leadership of Senators McCain and Dorgan has
made an impact on this important issue.”
That’s all good, but if Selig really believed that mislabled and tainted over-the-counter supplements were a problem, why didn’t he buy J.C. Romero’s defense? Romero, you’ll recall, was suspended 50 games for taking something he bought from a GNC store which both he and the MLBPA thought was OK, and contained no evidence that it had bad stuff in it on the label, but turned out to have a banned hormone in it. Baseball didn’t think that got him off the hook and he served his suspension because, according to Major League Baseball, he was “negligent.”
If baseball really thinks guys like Romero were “negligent” then you’d think they’d issue a statement saying that the new law is unnecessary.
UPDATE: Just had a conversation with someone at Major League Baseball. Their view — which makes a good deal of sense, I’ll admit — is that the drug policy sort of has to take the kind of zero-tolerance approach that was taken in the Romero case, or else enforcement actions are going to be prone to a bunch of “I didn’t know what I was taking” defenses, rendering the policy largely ineffective. Ultimately, the issue is whether a player — despite his intentions — competed in a game with a banned substance in his system. I can see that. Baseball’s drug policy, while having multiple purposes, should probably have “making sure athletes are competing on a level playing field” as its top priority.
But one question I do have is that, if that’s the case, what’s the point of even having an appeals and arbitration process like the one Romero went through in the first place? Why not just a test-positive-no-appeal kind of system? Or at the most an appeals process that only scrutinizes the science of it all, such as whether the test itself was wrongly administered or whether the samples were tainted or what have you?